Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D'Arcy, Xun Zhou, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Robert Fyfe, and more.
Directed by: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski Written for the Screen by: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski Based on the Novel by: David Mitchell Cinematography by: Frank Griebe and John Toll Original Music by: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, and Tom Tykwer
Premise: The connections and actions of people can affect connections and actions of others and themselves in future times. Five concurrent stories that are united by the concepts of freedom, love, truth, and music. (Rated R)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The roles in this film had to be as much a treat for the actors who played them as it was for the audience to watch. Not only did the acotrs have their physical aspects changed in each venue, but the characters were all different even if some aspects remained the same. Superb acting by all concerned. Tom Hanks is easily recognizable in all the roles he played, even with the amazing makeup. Halle Berry was also easy to spot. But most of Hugh Grant's and one or two of Hugo Weaving's roles I had no idea it was them. So make sure to sit through the credits as they'll flash all the characters each of the actors played. Keep a mental tally to if you spotted all of them of not.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Some of the effects for the different time frames were subtle, others quite grand. All the futuristic vehicles and technology were amazing. My favorite has to be the room Somni-451 is taken to by Hae-Joo Chang. Reminded me of the scene in the original "TRON" that was cut out (and unfortunately lost) after the sampling run of the movie at the time - the one where Tron lent power to activate his room. Totally awesome.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: Some viewers may find the mixture of the five stories a bit jarring or hard to make the switch without some mental funbling. Personally, once they fully established the distinct stories in the first few minutes, I used the visual cues provided and didn't have any trouble knowing which story we were watching at any particular time.
The film starts with a story teller and ends there as well. Circles are a major theme throughout the film. One bit of fun was how the storyteller begins the tale and then one of those whose story is being told, apologizes and asks us to bear with him with regards to the shifting tales. This made the tale the storyteller and vice versa, as become obvious later still.
Other recurring themes in the plot are freedom, making a stand, truth, and love. Things that happen in the past make subtle appearances in the future related stories, even if only as a found button, a torn book, or a snatch of an old film. Connections are everywhere, and it was fun looking for them. Pay special attention to names as those are the main clues on several of the connected items, though many are visual as well.
For any authors out there, I believe the current day tale was partially written just for us! The Timothy Cavendish storyline was hilarious on several levels. It was nice that though some of these souls may have come back again and again, they weren't always the best they could be, at times giving into tendencies they'd won against in the past. One of the shifts with regards to one of the characters comes as a surprise. Gave the film more flavor that way. Even a seemingly innocuous joke about "Soylent Green" comes back to haunt us.
As the plots play along, a seeming synchronicity comes into play, for though in the beginning the five stories were circles that barely touched, they come to pile up on top of each other as the climax of the film is reached.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Each location for the stories was unique and totally immersive. They also help the audience know which story is being told. And the cinematography was excellent - whether of a real location, like San Francisco, or a CGI one, like Neo Seoul. Several of the views were quite breathtaking.
6) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: If they don't win an award for the costuming and makeup, I will be shocked. Not only did the past sequences look historically accurate (the 70's scenes gave me flashbacks), but the two future set stories had evolved fashions and even some mannerisms or ways of speaking unique to themselves, which made them all the more believable.
Conclusion: The film is 172 minutes long, but it won't feel that way. Between the five stories, the great visuals, the bits of mystery, and looking for all the fun little bits that have bled into the other stories, you'll be way too busy having fun.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)
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